Seeking and Influencing the Online Drivers in Social Media


The holy grail of social marketing: Having successful influencers define your next influencer program. 

Here’s the social media activity mix as articulated by Michael Brito.

The “1%” drive the market based on their actions – what they write/tweet about or what they say at events and interviews. They are influencers and are seen as subject matter experts for a specific topic.  Our algorithms show that there are never more than 50 people who drive the majority of share of conversation for a brand or a topic in a given country or language.

The “9%” are highly active online. They recommend, share, sign up, download, comment and other actions that let their community of peers know what they think about certain topics. In many respects, this group serves as the “trust filter” for the rest of the market.

The “90%” are the great majority of any market. They lurk and learn. This group is satisfied with using search for discovering new products or consuming the content of their peers. They decide how compelling the 1% and the 9% really are in telling your brand’s story based on their purchase behavior.

If you buy this premise, you’ll see several problems.

  1. A very elite number of people influence the conversation. These are the folks (like myself) who want to make our opinions, observations, and reviews known.
  2. If they take sponsorships or can be influenced themselves, they are going to be busy.
  3. It’s possible they do not take advertising/marketing dollars (like myself) and are merely working to increase their own authority and reach.

So how do you influence the influencers? How do you connect with the elite drivers of social conversations?

In the course of numerous contests and social content generation efforts I have learned a few lessons. I believe these concepts should form the backbone of any influencer program your company is attempting launch.

  • Make sure you have a driver/influencer on your team who understands the market you are trying to reach.
  • Articulate the value proposition for the driver you are wanting to reach. (What’s in it for them? Authority? Connection to a large brand? New followers? A huge bump in traffic as a result of your “program?”
  • Have a clear and simple outline of what you want them to do. (What do they have to do for you to participate? Tweet once a day? Write several posts over the course of a month? Write a review of your product?)
  • Demonstrate previous success. (Show them the results you’ve achieved for other influencers.)
  • Run buttoned up calls and meetings. (Have an agenda, stick to the timeframe, always end early.)
  • Respond immediately to their questions and concerns.

In the world of building influencer teams, your success will be gated by your ability to articulate your value proposition (for them) and how well you execute on the overall program. You want to keep influencer/drivers for more than a single event.

Building an influencer army.

Reaching this 1% of the social influencers online is not easy. Cutting through their daily chaff is just like marketing to anyone else. Be clear. Show the value. Ask for their participation. Once you have a big fish you want to keep them very happy. And if you can assemble a school of big fish you might be on your way to the real magic, when they begin to talk and share amongst themselves (in the influencer community you set up) as expert influencers. Then your brand/company can sit near the fire and hum along with their kumbaya.

The holy grail of social marketing: Having successful influencers define your next influencer program. 

What you really want to build is an influencer who believes in your product and can tell your story the way you’d like it to be represented in your marketplace. Advertisers do this by paying for ads and “native” content ads. Influencers, the real gold standard, do it when they believe in your value proposition. First they have to believe in your value proposition for THEM. Next, if things go well, they will begin to articulate what they believe about your product or service. At this point they are no longer influencers, they are allies and friends, talking around a campfire.

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

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